Penn State played UCF on Saturday afternoon before a sun splashed audience in Beaver Stadium. University Park might have been one of the few dry spots in the Commonwealth that day, but you'd never know it judging by how Penn State sloppily bobbled the ball all over the place.
The game started much the same way the BC game unfolded. Mistakes, mistakes, and more mistakes.
Penn State opened the game by marching straight down the field to the UCF 15 yard line before Zack Mills promptly fumbled the ball away on a sprint option keeper. After holding UCF near midfield and getting the ball back at the Penn State 15 yard line, the Nits went three and out. The punt snapper sent an errant ball back to punter Jeremy Kapinos who juggled it in before wildly shanking a punt that traveled all of 6 yards.
Taking over at the Penn State 26 yard line, UCF managed one first down before Matt Prater converted a 33 yard field goal for a 3-0 UCF lead.
The two teams traded possessions before Penn State took over at it's own 20 early in the second quarter. Big plays by Michael Robinson, Paul Jefferson, Isaac Smolko, and Austin Scott set Penn State up in the UCF red zone. A 23 yard Zack Mills to Terrance Phillips pass completion then set Tony Hunt up for a 4 yard TD run to put Penn State in front 7-3.
UCF would get nowhere on it's ensuing possession before punting the ball back to Penn State. However, a beautiful 17 yard run by Tony Hunt was negated when Mills threw an interception at the UCF 15 yard line.
Penn State's defense again rose to the occasion holding UCF to two yards. Calvin Lowry then took the UCF punt back deep into UCF territory where Tony Hunt wasted no time putting Penn State up two scores on a 26 yard run on Penn State's next play from scrimmage.
On The Knights next play from scrimmage, Dan Connor made the first interception of his college career by making a diving catch off a deflected pass at the UCF 28 yard line. After a 20 yard toss from Mills to Gerald Smith, Penn State would eventually hit the end zone on a nifty 1 yard pass from Mills to TE John Bronson.
The remainder of the half showed a Penn State defense that would not budge. That's the good news. The bad news is that our offense coughed up the ball twice within the final two minutes of the half. After one UCF three and out Penn State got the ball back only to see Mills lose a center exchange that was recovered by UCF.
After a second three and out, Mills directed Penn State past midfield before throwing a pass towards Terrance Phillips that wound up ricocheting to UCF defensive Mike Walker who returned the gift all the way to the Penn State 9 yard. Penn State would hold UCF at bay before Matt Prater converted a chip shot FG just before the half to cut the Penn State lead to 21-6 at intermission.
Penn State held UCF to open the second half. Mills then led Penn State down the field again only to fumble the ball away at the UCF 25 yard line. This was the beginning of another string of errors for both teams.
UCF would go three plays netting zero yards before punting the ball. Penn State got it back and went 22 yards before punting it back to UCF. This is where it got nutty, again. UCF return man Tavaris Capers fumbled the ball at the UCF 10 yard line and Calvin Lowry scooped it up and returned it to the UCF 2 yard line. Mills and center EZ Smith again muffed the center snap and the ball popped into the air where UCF recovered it at their 2 yard line.
After going all of three yards on three plays, UCF then had a bad center snap on their punt that sailed thru the end zone for a safety.
UCF punted from their 20 yard line after the safety and Penn State needed only two big plays to reach the end zone again. A 27 yard pass completion from Mills to Gerald Smith set up a 33 yard off tackle burst by Tony Hunt. Touchdown Penn State!
Penn State emptied it's bench in the fourth quarter. Players like Chris Ganter, Anthony Morelli, Kinta Palmer, Vic Surma, Mike Gasparato, Rodney Kinlaw, and Brendan Perretta all saw action.
UCF would return a punt for a touchdown and 5th year senior Mike Gasparato would score from 22 yards to close out the scoring.
Matt Rice, Paul Posluzny, and true freshman Dan Conner led Penn State with 7 tackles each. Alan Zemaitis had 6 tackles, five of them unassisted.
Penn State's defense basically pinned UCF down on Saturday giving up a scant 180 yards in total offense to the Knights(compared to 505 yards gained by Penn State).
The story of the game was turnovers. UCF returned a punt for a touchdown. Penn State had another punt go all of six yards due, in part, to a poor center snap. Four fumbles and two interceptions later and you essentially have yourselves a coaches worst nightmare.
As bad as the turnovers were, Penn State still did enough to win the game by nearly four touchdowns by gouging the UCF defense for huge plays left and right while totally shutting the UCF offense down with a swift and opportunistic defense.
Post Game Comments
Coach Paterno on whether or not Penn State is physically ready for what lies ahead, "If we turn the ball over six times, I don't care how physical we are. We could take out a bunch of 600-pound gorillas, but we'll still get beaten."
MLB Tim Shaw on Dan Connor‘s interception, "The receiver dropped the ball and Dan made a great catch. He's a smart player and you can tell that he is coached really well. He goes out and plays 100% every down and I'm happy to have him on our team."
Michael Robinson on the start of Big10 play, "We will physically be ready for the Big Ten. We're going to soak up the win tonight and then start thinking about the Big Ten tomorrow. We have to get mentally tough, relax and clear our heads. We just need to keep playing football and battle for wins."
E.Z. Smith on how the offensive line played, "I think we played a lot better. We took off hard. There was no difference level of our enthusiasm or our trying, I just think we were able to come off and get up to our linebackers like we did the first game. We got some blocks and we have two great running backs here, so I think that made a difference."
Austin Scott on how he approached the game, "Yards and rushing—that's the only thing I feel held me back [since not playing last game]. I came back in practice and worked hard and did everything right. I just came out in the game and played. There was a little miscommunication [between Mills and I]. I didn't have the ball all the way in the pocket ready to go; when Zack let the ball go and it was right on the side of my hip, so it fell."
Paul Posluzny on confidence, "It's definitely a big plus for us, especially going into the Big Ten season now when I think our defense has a lot of confidence. We really trust each other; our linebackers really trust the front four. The guys in front of us really trust the secondary. So just going into the Big Ten after coming off a win like this and a big defensive day, I think its really going help us."
And on Dan Connor's play, "The more he plays the better he gets. He's going to be an outstanding linebacker for us. He did some special things today and I think that's just a little preview of what's to come. He makes plays that other guys just cant make. He has great football awareness."
Tony Hunt on the offensive line play, "They did a good job today opening up holes and keeping their heads up because we had a few problems out there; a few turnovers. But I don't think anyone gave up."
Penn State travels to Madison this week to take on the Wisconsin Badgers in front of a national audience and the ESPN Gameday crew of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso.
Wisconsin is coming off a come from behind 9 - 7 win at Arizona that featured defense, defense, and more defense on both sides of the ball. Arizona limited the Badgers to 262 yards in the game but could muster only 199 yards themselves against this very strong Wisconsin defense.
With Anthony Davis out of the line up, Wisconsin is lacking star players on offense right now. Booker Stanley is doing an admirable job standing in for Davis, but they don't have much else. John Stocco was 12 for 24 for 116 yards, but no UW receiver caught more than 2 balls and none are a deep threat as of this time.
This Wisconsin team knows how to play defense, though. The Badgers play a lot of 8 in the box run blitz type stuff and dare you to beat them with the pass. That's not especially good for Penn State at all. The Badgers surrendered their first TD of the season when UA receiver Mike Jefferson pulled in a 44 yard Kris Heavner scoring pass after Wisconsin safety Jim Leonhard had lost his footing and fell on the wet turf.
The Badger front seven is led by all Big10 candidates, DT Antaj Hawthorne and DE Erasmus James.
Michigan 24 San Diego State 21
Michigan struggled at home against the SDSU Aztecs. Trailing 21-17 at halftime, Michigan rallied with a 7 yard Chad Henne to Braylon Edwards 3rd quarter touchdown pass before holding on for dear life as SDSU missed two 4th quarter FG attempts to tie the game.
Chad Henne looked like the college freshmen that he is Saturday going 11 of 24 for 162 yards, 2 TD's, and 3 interceptions. Henne showed his characteristic "go" mentality in an unwillingness to just throw the ball away while taking 5 sacks against the Aztecs. Lloyd Carr went so far as to temporarily pull Henne from the game in the second quarter in favor of rsFR QB Clayton Richard.
Telling stat - in addition to Chad Henne's 3 interceptions, the Michigan secondary gave up 289 yards passing against them. Where have you gone Pierre Woods?
Ohio State 22 NC State 14
The Buckeyes proved once again they just know how to win big games. It doesn't matter if it's at home or on the road in hostile ACC territory.
Jim Tressel's squad managed a measly 137 yards in total offense, but their stout defenders took the ball away from the Wolfpack 5 times leading to all 22 points. The relatively young Buckeye offense can't seem to move the ball well at all, but their defense is like a brick wall in crunch time.
Telling stat - Justin Zwick was only 10 for 21 passing for 73 yards and had trouble coming even close to hitting his pass targets downfield. Ohio State was only 2 of 16 on 3rd down attempts. The Buckeyes held NC State to 2 of 13 on their 3rd down conversion attempts and took the ball away 5 times to win the turnover margin by a +4 count.
Minnesota 34 Colorado State 16
The talented Gophers ran their record to 3-0 with a road win at Colorado State. The Gophers two headed ground attack of Marion Barber III and Lawrence Maroney racked up a lot of yards on the ground - both eclipsing the 100 yard mark with Barber alone getting 201 yards - on their way to a controlled victory.
The Gophers were aided when talented CSU QB Justin Holland threw numerous ill timed high floating passes which Minnesota obligingly picked off.
Telling stat - Minnesota got 504 total yards, 360 of them on the ground. The Gophers gave up 424 yards on defense, including 298 thru the air.
Arizona State 44 Iowa 7
One week after Northwestern had lost by a 30 - 21 score at home to Arizona State, 16th ranked Iowa was woodshed beaten late Saturday night in Tempe by those same Sun Devils. As anemic as the Ohio State offense may have performed at NC State, Iowa was worse in the desert. The Hawkeyes managed just 5 first downs and 105 yards in total offense for the game while surrendering 517 yards, 444 of them passing, to ASU.
If not for a punt returned for a TD on the final play of the game, Iowa would have been totally shut out. "It was about as sound a beating as we have had in some time," stated Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Telling stat - all
Amid Mistakes, PSU Pounds UCF
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